Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Thoughts On Self-Improvement and/or Productivity, Also Television and Exercise

I was chatting with my friend Marla a few weeks ago. She is a fellow Self-Improvementista (although less neurotic about it than me) and she put it well when she said that, ideally, we learn to Give Up (the unhealthy, idolatrous identity-enhancing self-improvement) without Giving Up In General (becoming resigned in a hopeless way.) I have been playing that game of tug o' war my whole life, with Determined-Yet-Unmerciful-Woman yanking on one end of the rope and Gentle-Yet-Discouraged-Woman on the other end. It's a messy sport. Both women are always muddy, bruised and exhausted (this is not at all sexy) and neither have enough talent to get themselves out of the minor leagues. What they both need is for Ms. Balance to step in, take away the rope and find them a new career, but that's unlikely since she doesn't seem to exist.

The past few weeks I haven't been doing much art, writing or creative work, which (for a person who likes to be busy and on her feet) translates into doing a lot of straightening up the house. I'm not a great housekeeper even when I am working hard at it - probably because 1) it's not a natural talent for me and 2) a lot of other people contribute to the mess more than they contribute to it's eradication. But I also don't function well when things are unworkably messy. One reason I get discouraged is that although doing it is on some level important to me, I don't count it as "productive" because, well, there is unfortunately no lasting product to show for it.

Since I find dreaming and planning to be a fun activity in itself, I delude myself into believing that more can get done in a day or a week than is possible. I think my friend Marisa has it right when talks about having a rhythm to her days, and I was just reminded of a journal page I made about 6 years ago:

So I guess the idea of rhythm is pretty natural to me too, and reading this, it is interesting how similar the rhythm of today is to the rhythm of six years and one child ago:

1) get up, make morning cafe latte
2) make breakfasts
3) spend more or less time doing house maintenance
4) cook lunch and/or dinner
5) fitting in more or less exercise and other personal stuff (reading, art, TV etc.) in there as possible    (with less being the norm)
6) evening house maintenance
7) bedtime varying between 10pm and 1am (although that late is more rare these days) with hopefully a bit more personal stuff to help keep my sanity

Of course, all this is accomplished while constantly interacting with at least 5 other people at once.

The last line of this entry is, "It's amazing to see how little I actually "get done". I know I waste some time, but I don't know if that's the big reason or if life is just like that."

From today's vantage point, I would have to say that life is just like that, and what needs to change is my acceptance of that fact.

When I wrote that entry it was right when I had started watching television, after 15 years of not watching at all.  I was watching Six Feet Under for the first time, and also Dexter. I feel like I have watched an awful lot of stuff since that time, but I don't think it has really been all that many shows. I've watched Buffy through three times, Angel and Dollhouse twice. SFU twice. Battlestar Galactica. Being Human UK. Firefly. Orange is the New Black. House of Cards. The Americans. American Horror Story. Torchwood. House. Lie To Me. Some of Downton Abbey. Mad Men. Hannibal. Orphan Black. Some of Doctor Who. Deadwood. How to Get Away With Murder. Now I am in the middle of Brothers and Sisters.

What I have learned is that in general I'm not a fan of procedurals like House, which also includes the most monster-of-the weeky episodes in Buffy. If there is not an overarching plot that ideally unfolds throughout the whole series with a lot of character growth and development, I eventually get bored. Nothing in my life ever gets neatly wrapped up in 60 minutes, that's for sure. House especially suffered from procedural-itis AND lack of significant character growth. In Seasons 6 and 7 of House they had a real opportunity to get him past his one dimensional self-involvement and also give us some good backstory on both him and Cuddy, but it didn't happen.

Of all those shows, the ones that are still important to me on a heart level are Six Feet Under, the Whedons (except Firefly) and Torchwood: Children of Earth. Despite its sentimentality I think Brothers and Sisters will stick with me. Although I was always gripped while I was watching it, Dexter ultimately didn't get to me all that deeply. Battlestar Galactica gets an honorable mention, as does Being Human UK. I think by the time it's wrapped up I might really love The Americans too. The only one I would absolutely refuse to watch again is Doctor Who.

The tale of all this sitting leads me into exercise. I went to the chiropractor the other day and found that after a pregnancy I am still 15lbs over my happy weight and 25 lbs over my skinniest, which I reached because of gallbladder problems. I got pregnant before I saw whether that weight would have been sustainable. Before this last pregnancy I exercised 5 days a week, not including walks 6-7 days a week. My eating is not much different, but I have never gotten back into regular exercise because this current baby has been much more into making sure I Am Right There All The Time. So, I assume that 15lbs is there because of becoming more sedentary, and maybe some of it is the dreaded perimenopot. What's interesting though is that the 15lbs don't look as bad as they did when I had some extra fluff BEFORE I got into lifting weights - granted, that was about 15lbs more too, but I can tell that having more developed muscles underneath the fat makes it easier to carry without looking quite as frumpy.

I do think exercise is more important to "fit in" to my daily schedule and/or rhythm than creative work, because ultimately everything I do comes through my physical body and I handle life somewhat better when I get the endorphins going.

So I don't end on that abrupt note, I'll share the only creative thing I've done in probably two months. It's a memory game for a friend whose son died in a car accident two years ago. My husband cut 2 inch squares out of a game board, then I put decorative paper on one side of the squares and photos on the other. There are 44 squares and 22 pairs, with gold paint on all the edges. My Roku stick came in a cool box so I covered that in the same decorative paper and put all the squares inside:

I know it can be used for creepy purposes, but I liked that I could grab all the photos from my friend's FB page so it could be a surprise.

Now I'll end on that abrupt note.

1 comment:

  1. "with Determined-Yet-Unmerciful-Woman yanking on one end of the rope and Gentle-Yet-Discouraged-Woman on the other end"

    So well put! I've never been able to articulate that so clearly.